Posted by sean on November 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm in Video Games with No Comments

Today is a special day – an important anniversary. Quite frankly, I am surprised it is not a public holiday. 20 years ago today, one of the greatest video games of all time was released to the world. I am talking, of course, about Donkey Kong Country.

Pre-DKC, I grew up with Alex the Kidd in Miracle World, before moving onto the Sega Megadrive and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This opened the international debate ‘Sonic the Hedgehog vs. The Super Mario Brothers’. It was an evenly matched contest, as both were very good games. However, when Donkey Kong appeared on the scene, it crapped all over the opposition.

In my opinion, DKC was the biggest breakthrough in video game history. It was released around the time that the Sony PlayStatation and Sega Saturn were the next generation consoles, yet only the super-rich could afford them. DKC allowed the everyday man (and child) to play a game, which looked and played easily as good as any “next-gen” title on their trusty old 16-bit SNES.

When I got a SNES for my birthday, DKC blew my mind. As well as the graphics, which still look lush today, the game was simply massive. Granted, to complete the levels, it was relatively straight-forward. To find all the hidden special stages, collect all the artefacts and secrets, took AGES. Remember, this was the pre-internet days too – there were no websites giving you 1,000 page walkthroughs or YouTube videos showing you exactly how to find and do everything.

I am proud to say, I found everything. I got 100%. Although, in DKC, it is 101% (in the sequel, DKC2, you had to find 102% and 103% in DKC3). How did I do this? A mix of very hard work, wasted youth, help from school chums and spending far too much pocket money on monthly Nintendo magazines… OK, I didn’t buy them, but I did spend many an hour in the local newsagent, treating it like a library, reading the publications cover-to-cover.

The effort that went into completing DKC was pure dedication. What’s more, unlike modern games, you couldn’t save whenever you wanted. You had to complete anything up to half a dozen levels before you could reach the next ‘save point’; which, by the way, involved jumping into a barrel, while being watched by a scantily-dressed, apparently sexy monkey, called Candy Kong. Nothing disturbing there.

The only thing that makes me wonder about DKC is the concept of the game – primarily collecting bananas. Yes, Donkey Kong is a gorilla, and gorillas like bananas, but given the fact all the bananas were yellow and had already been picked, surely by the time the game had been completed, Mr. Kong wouldn’t be able to enjoy the fruits of his work, as they would have all turned brown and soggy, like old bananas do. Oh well, in a game where you can ride a rhinoceros, ostrich and giant frog, while jumping on crocodiles, I think I can forgive that minor flaw…

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